Texas man pleads guilty to selling fake Cookies vapes

A Texas man has pleaded guilty to selling thousands of counterfeit and potentially dangerous vape pens imported from China.

Christopher Andrew Reyes (23) of The Colony in Denton County also admitted charges of conspiracy to import drug paraphernalia.

While THC is legal in a number of US states, in Texas it remains illegal for recreational use, although low THC products can be taken for medical purposes with a doctor's prescription.

The case extends back to September 2019, when Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents intercepted a shipment of 2,400 counterfeit tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) vaping devices addressed to Reyes at his home.

The devices, which were sent from China and routed through DFW International Airport, bore the counterfeit trademark of the popular Cookies THC vape brand, according to a Department of Justice statement.

Investigators estimate that at least five additional shipments of vaping products had been sent to Reyes. He also admitted allowing employees of a vaping shop on Harry Hines Boulevard to order counterfeit THC vaping products online using his bank card.

In plea papers, the defendant admitted that after receiving the packages, he sold the contents back to the vaping shop for profit. His bank statements, which show large purchases from Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, backed up his admissions.

There is thought to be high volumes of illegal vapes in the illicit supply chain, which is particularly concerning given the outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) in the US that peaked in 2019.

Counterfeit and unapproved vaping products pose a very serious health concern to users as they are likely manufactured in unregulated facilities with unverified ingredients, according to the FDA.

"This defendant imported thousands of potentially dangerous black-market vaping devices," said Acting US Attorney Prerak Shah in a statement.

"Given the alarming incidence of lung injuries stemming from unregulated THC vapes, we knew could not allow any more of these devices onto our streets."

Reyes now faces up to three years in federal prison. His sentencing is set for Thursday, August 26.

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